This year, don't skip these 10 important but often overlooked pet health tasks.
We all know what the new year brings. Yep–it’s time to write all those resolutions that may or may not get done in 365 days. Of course, it all starts out with good intentions and optimism, but then life happens (we get it).
This year, maybe go easy on your own resolutions and focus more on making some for your pet’s health instead. And then commit to at least three of four of them, if you know for sure you can’t manage to get them all done.
We’ve already taken the first step and come up with a list of important but often overlooked pet health tasks.
1. Make an appointment for your pet’s annual checkup.
See how we just said to make the appointment? That’s the hard part–just getting your schedule figured out and committing to a day and time. Once you’ve done that, then you and your pet just need to show up.
If you can’t remember when your pet last went to the vet, they are probably due. There are several reasons why your dog needs to see the vet yearly, and if they’re in their senior years, they really should go every six months.
The first thing they should stay current on is vaccination. Dog vaccines are categorized as “core” and “non-core.” All dogs should have the core vaccines, rabies (required by state law) and DHPP, which protects against four things: distemper, parvovirus, parainfluenza (not to be confused with canine influenza), kennel cough, and canine hepatitis. Then you have the non-core vaccines, and your vet can recommend which of those your dog should get.
Your vet will also look your dog over from head to tail for any early signs of issues. Then they’ll take some blood to check the health of their organs and bodily functions. They also like to check your dog’s urine and stool for signs of diabetes, urinary issues, parasites, and many other things.
You can also get any prescriptions your pet needs, ask about that weird wart on their chin, find out the best thing to feed your dog, and just get peace of mind about your dog’s health.
2. Get your dog’s heartworm medication on autoship.
You may not know this, but heartworms are a big deal. It’s super important to keep your dog on monthly heartworm meds and not be late with them.
Dogs can get heartworms simply by being bitten by an infected mosquito. If your dog is not on heartworm meds and gets infected, it can cause serious damage to their lungs, heart, kidney, and liver. They will have to have a series of shots and complete bed rest for about a month.
But you can prevent all of this if you get your dog’s heartworm medications sent to you monthly. Then it serves as a reminder and you can give it to your dog on time each month.
3. Schedule a professional dental exam and cleaning.
Your dog should have their teeth cleaned by the dentist once a year to keep them healthy. You may think your dog doesn’t really need it, or that their teeth seem to be fine, but there are a few things you should know about your dog’s dental health.
One is that dogs are excellent at hiding pain, including oral pain. So it’s not likely that you would know right away if your dog did have something going on with their teeth or gums.
Second is that aside from losing a tooth or having infected gums, bad dental health can cause problems with their organs, too! The same bacteria that causes plaque can get into the bloodstream and travel throughout your dog’s body, causing serious harm.
Here are two tips for booking your appointment:
- February is pet dental health month, and some vets have special discounts on dental exams then, so be sure to ask!
- Opt for a dental cleaning under anesthesia, as it cuts down on the stress for your pet and allows for a better cleaning. Talk it over with your vet to make the best decision for your pet.
4. Clip those talons!
Tired of hearing the “click, click, click” on the floor when your dog is walking? It’s probably time to get out the nail clippers. If you don’t have a good pair of dog nail clippers, now is the time to invest in one. Read the reviews or ask your vet which is the best kind for your dog’s nails.
You may be scared to cut your dog’s nails, especially if the nails are black and you can’t see the “quick,” or where the blood vessels are. If this is the case, you can always have your vet’s office do it. They will usually see this as a vet tech appointment, which is a lot cheaper and easier to schedule. Or you can find a reputable groomer that can do this. Set a reminder for every three weeks to check your dog’s nails.
When your dog’s nails get too long, they can catch in blankets and furniture and get torn off, plus it makes it hard for your dog to walk around normally. And if they get too long, they will start to grow into your dog’s skin, which will be painful and lead to a vet visit.
5. Clean pet beds once a week.
When’s the last time you washed your dog’s beds? That’s okay–we’re not here to shame you. But you can start this year off with a resolution to include your dog’s bedding in your laundry routine.
Aim for once a week, but if that’s too much, you can start small, with every other week. Anything is better than nothing! Your dog may really like all the smells that they’ve carefully curated in their little cozy bed, but you probably don’t, and you don’t want to end up with dirt, pollen, tiny infectious organisms, and who knows what else in there.
6. Don’t ignore the threat of fleas.
Just because you don’t see a flea on your dog, that doesn’t mean they aren’t there. Fleas and ticks need to be dealt with year-round, even in areas with colder weather.
Adult fleas are only 5% of the total flea population in an area. The other 95% live through the winter in various stages, from eggs to pupae hiding in their warm cocoons, just waiting for a chance to bite unprotected pets.
The easiest way to not have to worry about fleas and all the problems they can cause is by keeping your pet on flea and tick medication year-round. Most treatments are monthly, but some are given every three months so you don’t have to remember it every month.
7. Start taking care of your dog’s teeth at home.
Aside from making that yearly dental cleaning appointment, you should really be keeping up with your dog’s oral health at home in between.
If brushing your dog’s teeth every day seems like a lot, you’re right. But you can start small with just trying to brush a few teeth and getting your dog used to you putting your fingers in their mouth. There’s special meat-flavored toothpaste even, so your pup will think it’s a treat.
Try the toothbrush that slips over your finger, and slowly increase the number of teeth. You can also add a sort of doggie mouthwash to their water bowl to help keep their teeth and gums healthy that they won’t even taste.
8. Get those steps in!
Walking your dog on a daily basis is a great habit for both of you. Outdoor walks can be mentally and physically beneficial, but if getting outside isn’t always an option, treadmills can be a great way for both you and your dog to get a full-body workout when the weather is less than ideal or if you have a leash reactive pup. Plus, it offers a low impact way for your dog to get some steps in, especially if they are recovering from an injury or operation.
9. Upgrade your dog’s diet.
One of the hardest questions to answer–even for vets–is “What should I be feeding my dog?” There are so many options out there when it comes to the way it’s manufactured (dry, wet, freeze-dried, dehydrated, etc.), the brands, the type (organic, holistic, limited ingredient, etc.), the main meat protein, and the other ingredients.
We can help make this a little easier. Sundays for Dogs’ recipes are vet-formulated with all-natural, human-grade ingredients for your dog’s best health. The food is also air-dried, which means it doesn’t go through harsh extrusion like dry food or long cooking processes like canned food that get rid of all the good nutrients.
It combines the best parts of raw and homemade foods–preserving vital nutrients with a delicious flavor–but removes the risk of bacteria and the hassle of having to make your own dog food.
Basically, you only have to make one decision–which flavor. You can set up a subscription to have your dog’s new favorite food shipped automatically to your house (no running out of food!)
10. Finally get pet health insurance.
Pet insurance can provide financial protection for pet owners in the event that their pet becomes sick or injured. It can help cover the cost of veterinary care, which can be expensive, especially in the case of unexpected or emergency situations. This can help alleviate some of the financial burden and allow pet owners to focus on getting their furry friend the care they need.
In addition to covering the cost of medical treatment, pet insurance can also provide peace of mind for pet owners. Knowing that their pet is covered in the event of an unexpected illness or injury can help alleviate stress and allow pet owners to focus on the well-being of their pet rather than worrying about how they will pay for veterinary care.
Consider Spot Pet Insurance, which offers customizable plans and potential reimbursement of up to 90% on vet bills. With pet insurance from Spot, you can get coverage for accidents, illnesses, emergencies, surgery, cancer treatment, prescription medications, microchip implantation, X-rays, behavioral issues, dental disease, and more, for covered conditions. Plus there are no networks, you can visit any licensed vet in the US or Canada!